Would-be apprentices scale new heights with virtual reality construction

Attendees at Leeds Apprenticeship Recruitment Fair donned VR headsets to learn vertiginous construction skills

Attendees at yesterday’s (7 February) Leeds Apprenticeship Recruitment Fair were offered a thoroughly modern take on training, in the form of virtual reality construction activities.

Leeds College of Building invited people to don VR headsets and try their hand at skills including piloting drones for site surveying, simulating spray painting or wood machining, and working at height and with scaffolding.

The fair marked the start of the 15th annual National Apprenticeship Week (7-13 February).

Leeds College of Building has already helped more than 100 of its students since joining CONVERT (construction virtual environment resource training), a two-year UK-wide collaborative project led by the Construction Wales Innovation Centre.

“Leeds College of Building is committed to be at the forefront of industry developments and adopting new technology to support and enhance our students’ learning experience,” said Wayne Chappelow, construction crafts faculty director at the FE college.

“Our staff have embraced VR, undertaking their own training to deliver this immersive and interactive mode of learning, which is especially engaging for younger students.”

CONVERT stems from a £2 million investment by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), with the aim of more straightforwardly helping students acquire hard to teach, high-risk skills.

“If we get it right, immersive learning has the potential to help revolutionise construction training,” said Marcus Bennett, CITB head of analysis and forecasting. “As a complement to traditional training, it can help more quickly and cost effectively produce work-ready employees, so reducing skills shortages and improving quality, safety, and efficiency.

“For trainers it can create extra capacity, speed student assessment, and allow students to learn by repetition in a risk-free environment. It can be both stimulating and provide understanding impossible in a classroom setting so, in turn, can help positively influence perceptions of the industry and attract more young people into construction.”

In related news: How can virtual reality help to bridge the medical education gap?

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